If you have ever considered taking up Muay Thai, chances are you’ve gotten slightly nervous at the thought of your first lesson. After all, Muay Thai is a brutal looking sport: two guys, girls or, in some parts of the world, young kids fighting in a ring or a cage (John Wayne Parr’s CMT new era of stand up Muay Thai fighting with mma gloves), punching/kicking/kneeing/elbowing each other, and hoping to come out unscathed.
Even seasoned martial artists have been known to dread taking up Muay Thai, as the sport is renowned for its emphasis on hard sparring, as opposed to forms, and its demanding conditioning regime. Unlike many other Martial Arts, Muay Thai is in essence a fighting art meant to be used in real fights. If you go and train in Thailand, the Thai people often don’t understand why foreigners want to train Muay Thai just for the passion and health benefits associated with it. This is because Thai people train Muay Thai to fight Muay Thai.
Once you get past the nerves and decide to train Muay Thai and become a Nak Muay (Muay Thai boxer), the next step is buying the appropriate Muay Thai equipment . When starting weightlifting, one does not wear football boots and when playing cricket, one does not show up on the field with a golf club. With that being said, you will need a minimum amount of equipment to increases the enjoyment and overall safety whilst participating in this sport.
Below is a list of Muay Thai equipment essential for training.
To protect the small bones in the hands from damage, hands must be wrapped prior to hitting pads or the bag. Conventional handwraps are non-elastic while Mexican-style handwraps are slightly elasticized and are more popular with traditional boxers.
The length of handwraps will vary depending on personal preference, hand size and the type of glove to be worn. A new alternative to handwraps are foam or gel-lined fingerless gloves as they take much less time and hassle than traditional handwraps, although, they are seen as being generally less effective. Some fighters use 2 sets of handwraps, adding more padding to the knuckles and wrists.
Personally, you can never own too many hand wraps. Carry a couple in your bag at all times, you never know when you might need an extra pair.
Get your handwraps here.
Also, setting your hand-wraps out in the gym or leaving them in the bag to dry without cleaning with a water/bleach solution or anti-bacterial solution is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
- Boxing Gloves
Generally, Muay Thai beginners will have a set of training gloves or sparring gloves. These gloves are used for all types of training like hitting the bags and sparring. After a few months these gloves will have to be changed. Gloves are made with padding that, with time, will start to crack-up and soften when used for a long time, especially bag gloves, since you hit as hard as you can with them on the heavy bag. With time, the padding of heavy-bag glove you use will start to soften and if you spar with them, they will hurt your partner.
Guys who are more advanced or fighters will have at least two sets of gloves. One set of gloves cannot be used for all purposes.
- The first pair is used for sparring and drilling purposes. 16oz gloves are a standard in terms of safety for your partner, and also, the weight will give you a better workout. They generally have a foam core to protect your sparring partner and can be made from polyurethane or leather. They typically have a velcro close at the wrist, though more expensive brands have laces. A decent leather set will cost €50-€100 depending on how good they look. Anything less than €50 should be avoided as they tend to fall apart.
- The second set of gloves would be used for the bag or for pad-work. They are smaller and lighter and offer less protection than training gloves. Because bag gloves are lighter and you can punch faster, they actually give you less preparation for real sparring. It depends on what your goal is:
- If you’re going to punch as hard as you can, you will need a larger glove size as you would need a lot of protection both for the knuckles and for your wrists. You will have to use a glove that has good shock absorbency for protecting your hands, and most importantly, you will need a glove that has very good wrist support. A good set of lace-up or velcro closure gloves that have an elongated cuff. More importantly, you will have to wrap your hands well.
- If you’re looking for a good workout, you want to add some weight and get a 16oz set or higher.
Whenever you’re training, using a bigger glove offers your hands much better protection as it has more padding. If you’re beating on the heavy bag, you want the best protection possible so that you’re not damaging your hands over time. Training with a bigger glove will get you more accustomed to the weight and your hands will be faster when you use smaller size gloves during fights.
Every brand distributes the weight across the Thai, or traditional, boxing glove differently. Some offer more protection for your fist, others more protection for your wrist. A 14oz glove from a good company (Rival, Cleto Reyes) offers far more padding and protection than a 16oz glove from a cheap generic company (Ringside, Century, TKO).
Go to your gym or local sight store and try on different types of boxing gloves they have. Check out the shape, padding, and comfort. Check out our selection of gloves online or in store.
As with the handwraps, hygiene is important. It is recommended to thoroughly clean your gloves inside and out with bleach/water or “Dettol” anti-bacterial solution after each session.
Most gyms/clubs have equipment available to members to use. This is a bad idea as recent articles in the sports industry have discouraged the use of shared equipment to prevent the spread of bacterial infections.
If you are planning on sparring, shinguards are a must to protect your training partners and yourself. They help to avoid cuts and bone bruises. Some gyms don’t use shinguards for light contact drills and light sparring so please talk to your coach before purchasing them.
Shin guards should cover the top of the foot, instep, and entire shin.
Don’t go the cheap route. If you spend €40 now and end up ruining your shinguards during sparring session, you’ll have to spend another €40 anyways. Spend the little extra to buy top quality Muay Thai shinguards so you don’t have to continuously spend more to replace the low quality ones. Also, if you can try them on before purchase. If you can head down to your local fight store, try them on to see if they fit… if they don’t buy a different pair.
- Mouth Guard
Possibly the cheapest piece of equipment you can buy for combat sports. Even if you don’t spar, it is highly recommended to have a mouth guard. Accidents do happen, getting punched or kicked in the head by mistake is not pleasant. Dentist bills are quite atrocious for repairing broken teeth, so do yourself a huge favour and always have your mouth guard in your bag.
- Groin Protection
No need for an explanation as to why any man would want this. Getting kicked in the groin hurts! Spend €20 and avoid the extra pain.
- Head Guard
The jury might be out on whether or not a head guard prevents / reduces concussions, however they do reduce cuts. They are mandatory in some amateur fights (mostly in boxing) and some clubs don’t allow sparring without one, so you need to learn to work with one on.
Personally, a head guard is another vital piece of equipment, like a mouth guard, for advanced and beginner students alike. Spending money is never fun, but concussions are much worse…
While most headgear succeeds at this to some extent, there are many other factors to consider when purchasing a head guard, such as weight, visibility, durability, padding, and size. Make sure to try on the equipment before you make a purchase to ensure a comfortable fit. Don’t purchase the same head guard your sparring partner wears just because he or she said it’s great. Everyone’s head is shaped differently and that needs to be taken into consideration. Check out our range of head guards from Revgear, Rival and Cleto Reyes here.
So there you have the six basic, but essential Muay Thai Equipment you need in order to train. The following items are additional gear generally carried by the seasoned fighters that can make a great difference for you when the need arises.
The warming agent and recovery liniment that has been used by Nak Muay for years. This muscle liniment is fantastic for dealing with the aches and pains associated with contact sports. It is great pre-workout and awesome for massage after. Apply some before training to wherever you’re sore and you’ll be right as rain in no time.
- Ankle Braces
Pad hitting, bag hitting, and no shin guard light contact drills are all made much more pleasant with ankle guards. When you kick an elbow with your instep, you’ll wish you were wearing one. Get your set here.
- Knee and Elbow Pads
As a beginner you wouldn’t know this, but, if you ever clash knees when sparring you will understand the importance of knee pads. Elbow pads are also important for sparring as they prevent your strikes from cutting your opponent. They can be found in our Muay Thai Equipment section of the shop.
- Skipping rope
All real Nak Muay own a skipping rope. The skipping rope will help develop coordination, foot work, cardiovascular endurance, and arm strength.
- Thai shorts
Thai shorts are short, loose fitting, light weight, and they dry quickly. The benefits of Thai shorts is that they do not restrict leg movement in kicks and knees. At the end of the day, any shorts will do (boxing shorts, basketball shorts, board shorts, etc) but it is very difficult to wear normal gym shorts and do Muay Thai properly due to the constant kicking and kneeing.
Any t-shirt, vest, rash-guard will do. Most people don’t like wearing a shirt when training Muay Thai and in Thailand most Nak Muay train with no shirt on. Sparring with shirts can be dangerous since feet can get tangled up in loose fabric.
Remember to drink plenty of water. Keeping hydrated is important during training.
Always shower after training and wash with antibacterial soap. There is never an exception to this rule. If you do not shower at the gym do so at home after you leave.
Feel free to ask any questions regarding our Muay Thai equipment in the comment section below.
At Fightstore PRO Ireland we have the best Muay Thai equipment range available in the Republic of Ireland. Starting with our Muay Thai clothing range we have a great range of t-shirts and Thai shorts all made in Thailand from the leading brands in the Muay Thai market today. As well as clothing we also have a wide range of Muay Thai Gloves and shin guards all authentic Thai brands.
All the gear we have available under Muay Thai Equipment is shipped into us direct from Thailand.